We recently had the opportunity to interview Fairgrounds St. Pete FLORIDARAMA Artist Babs Reingold. Her FLORIDARAMA, The Last Sea: Diorama is a miniature-sized version of an art installation she created depicting the devastating effects of climate change.
Venezuelan-born American artist Babs Reingold creates sculptures, drawings and installations focusing on beauty, the environment and poverty. For Babs, climate change and environmental issues are the existential crisis of our time. Florida is a particularly vulnerable state and without taking some action to combat climate change, it will suffer immeasurably. As an artist, she believes it is her role to create awareness of this crisis. And her ultimate hope in exploring and exhibiting this work about the environment is to inspire others to confront climate change and take action.
Babs has an extensive showing history with solo exhibitions in galleries in NYC, LA, Atlanta, Savannah, St. Pete and Buffalo. Museum shows include Jersey City Museum, Albright-Knox, Tampa Museum of Art and Museum of Fine Arts, St. Pete. Her awards include three recent grants from Florida State and Pinellas County, as well as awards received from the Whitney Museum’s Barbara Haskell, Michael Auping of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and a residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Babs has an MFA from SUNY-Buffalo and a BFA from Cleveland Institute of Art. Her major studio is in St Pete and she has a viewing space in New York City.
Read on to learn more about what the experience of being part of our inaugural exhibit is like for her!
What do you want the public to take away from experiencing the FLORIDARAMA diorama you have created for Fairgrounds St. Pete?
BABS REINGOLD: Climate change is the existential crisis of our time. The focus of the diorama is to alert people that the crisis is urgent as well as ponder what may happen to the incredible landscape of Florida in the future. Our planet may be at the final tipping point and the future appears bleak if we do not act immediately.
What about being a part of Fairgrounds St. Pete’s inaugural exhibition is most exciting to you?
BR: Fairgrounds St. Pete’s approach is unique. The merging of art and technology is growing fast and Fairgrounds is cutting edge within a new art movement. I am proud to be a part of this groundbreaking project in St. Petersburg, Florida.
What inspired your Fairgrounds St. Pete FLORIDARAMA?
BR: I have been working on installations and sculptures on the environment since 2006. The urgency of climate change struck home when I attended a lecture by the anthropologist Jared Diamond where he spoke on his book, “Collapse: Why Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed”. In particular, he emphasized the demise of Easter Island and posed the question “What do you think the Islander was thinking when he chopped down the last tree?” A once thriving island community is now poverty stricken because of complete deforestation. At that moment I knew I needed to focus my work on the environment and climate change.
Who or what is the most significant influence in your art practice?
BR: I don’t think there is one single influence in my art practice. I’ve begun reading “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. He distinguishes “reflex/instinctive actions” and “rational decisions”. My art, I believe, is this combination, which fluctuates with each piece.
Besides Fairgrounds St. Pete, do you have an upcoming project you’d like to share?
BR: The pieces in a series of sculptures titled “Hair Nest” are well underway. And I am discussing venues to exhibit this work as well as another series.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
BR: Follow your dreams immediately. Don’t delay.
What is your favorite FL destination or landmark?
BR: I have two favorite destinations.
1.) St. Petersburg: for its charm, accessibility, and its continual ability to grow and expand. We have lived here 16 years, first on a seasonal basis and now full time. In this short period of time we have seen tremendous changes.
2.) Miami: for the art scene
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